Persecution of Christians in Middle East a Significant Obstacle to Peace
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews writes in www.JewishWorldReview.com  on Sept. 11 about the systematic destruction of Christianity in the Middle East:
"An Islamic court in Shiraz, Iran, has just convicted two men of being infidels. Their crime? Converting to Christianity. The possible sentence? Death. Not too far away in Saudi Arabia, an outraged father recently hacked his own daughter to death for the same 'abomination.'
"In the daily drumbeat of Mideast news, there is one story of historic proportion that goes nearly unreported: the persecution and systematic destruction in the Islamic world of some of the world's oldest Christian communities.
"Sure, we hear when a Catholic bishop is murdered in Iraq, when machete-armed fanatics attack Egyptian Copt worshippers or when churches are torched in Hamas-controlled Gaza.
"But what about the jailing in Saudi Arabia of foreign workers for holding forbidden Christian prayers? Or the arrest in Pakistan of a Christian man for marrying a Muslim woman? Or the continuing problem of an Islamic educational system that teaches the young that Christians (as well as Jews) are 'the descendants of apes and pigs'?
"The pattern is nearly the same wherever extremist Islam holds sway. From Bangladesh to Darfur, Christians have become regular targets for Islamic thugs and the governments that back them.
"Even in lands that are not under orthodox Sharia law, Christian communities feel the pressure of persecution. In constitutionally secular Turkey, a legally recognized Protestant church in the capital of Ankara is under threat of closure by local police. Many Christians in Islamic lands have become subject to such terror that they are fleeing the homelands their ancestors have known almost since the time of Jesus. Iraq's Christian sects now feel forced to pray in secret. Others simply leave. Although they comprise less than 4 percent of Iraq's population, Iraqi Christians now account for 40 percent of its refugees.
"Lebanon's once politically powerful Christian community has already shrunk almost beyond recognition. Thirty years ago, Lebanon was 60 percent Christian; today it is barely 25 percent.
"Even in the Holy Land, there is an increasing Christian exodus from both the West Bank and Gaza. Part of it surely stems from the continuing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But much of it results from a growing Islamic campaign to force Christians to sell their property and leave.
"The only place in the Mideast where Christian communities continue to grow is in the Jewish state. Israel's tolerance is logical. What people of faith know the dangers of religious persecution better than the people of Israel -- especially those whose families originated in the Islamic world? Between 1948 and 1956, more than 850,000 Jews were forced to flee Arab lands where they'd lived for centuries.
"When, in 2001, Afghan fanatics destroyed two ancient statues of Buddha, the world was shocked. But between 1948 and 1967, when Islamic forces controlled the Holy City of Jerusalem, there was a systematic campaign to erase the historic Jewish presence. Synagogues were destroyed and ancient Jewish gravestones carted away. Even today, the Palestinian Authority denies Israel's right to consider itself a Jewish state and denies the historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
"If there is hope for peace in the Middle East, it hinges on extremist Islam reforming its view of others. People of commitment and tolerance all around the world -- Christians, Jews, Muslims and others -- must speak to prevent the Islamic world's Christians from suffering the same fate as its now all-but-nonexistent Jewish communities."
'Shariah-Compliant Finance' Doesn't Bode Well for Economy and Freedom
Scholar Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. writes in www.Townhall.com  on Sept. 16 about the effort to inject Muslim religious law into the world of Wall Street:
"The problem afflicting so much of the U.S. capital markets -- and, therefore, those around the world -- is not one of individual corporations hitting a rough patch and requiring bail-outs. It is, instead, the result of a reckless disregard for sound investing practices in the unscrupulous pursuit of profit. In a word, the last 'what' was 'subprime.'
"Tragically, in the process of leaping out of the scalding subprime frying pan, Wall Street is heading directly into a fire that promises, if anything, to be more devastating than the present disaster. Incredibly, it bears all the hallmarks of subprime with respect to a lack of transparency, a systematic failure to disclose and an utter absence of due diligence, good governance and accountability. The next 'what' is called Shariah-Compliant Finance.
"Shariah is the term the Islamists use to describe the ruthlessly repressive, totalitarian program they believe should govern every aspect of the lives of faithful Muslims. It is also the instrument they intend to use to rule the world. The first clue that something is wrong with Wall Street's next big thing is that it is shariah-compliant.
"The next clue is how Shariah-Compliant Finance works. Like subprime, it is a black-box, in which management and investors alike are told to trust in the experts. Experts here are shariah authorities accorded exclusive responsibility for determining whether investments are 'pure' (halal) or 'impure' (haram).
"These authorities are, unsurprisingly, adherents to Shariah. A number of them embrace its call to jihad (including a former senior member of the Dow Jones Islamic Index, Sheik Taqi Usmani). This 'holy war' is to be waged where possible through violent means, where necessary through 'soft' means like Shariah-Compliant Finance. For this reason, such Islamists call SCF 'financial jihad.'
"Earlier this year, David Yerushalmi, a litigator specializing in securities law and an expert on shariah, produced a riveting legal memorandum examining the civil and criminal exposure inherent in Shariah-Compliant Finance. His conclusion: Banks and investment houses offering SCF products may be enabling or engaging in the following: racketeering, anti-trust activity, securities fraud, consumer fraud and/or material support for terror.
"We should be wary of the purported silver lining to the current Wall Street crisis: the infusion of vast quantities of petro-dollars, mostly from OPEC's Saudi Arabia and other Islamist nations in the Persian Gulf. It's bad enough that these rescuers of our subprime-fueled liquidity debacle are buying up engines of our capital markets for pennies on the dollar. Worse yet, they are, in the process, putting themselves in a position to promote Shariah-Compliant Finance and the seditious theo-political agenda it serves.
"It is becoming ever-harder to differentiate between the Gulf states' so-called Sovereign Wealth Funds (actually they are the slush funds of the sovereigns) and Shariah-Compliant Finance. The former is being invested in ways that promote the latter, adding large pools of funds to what is estimated to be an $800 billion global industry.
"Congress is beginning to recognize the possible peril in what may happen next to Wall Street. The question occurs: Will they encourage or discourage the capital markets' leap into the fire?"